Friday, July 20, 2012

Injustice

"...I will fight against whoever fights you, and I will rescue your children." ~ Isaiah 49:25, GNT

"The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly." ~ Psalm 103:6, NLT

Few parents of children with typical kids can perceive the amount of injustice parents of children with special diagnoses face.  Whereas the average parent may find one school year where their child has a teacher that has it in for their child, or may have 1 bullying situation to contend with, this sort of thing can be a constant for moms and dads like us.

In countless ways, we find our challenged kids suffering from repeated injustice.  Frightfully common is the doctor who doesn't take us or our child seriously in dealing with their disease or disorder.  Insurance companies engage us in perpetual battle to get claims accepted and paid.  Schools frequently make parents fight for every morsel of accommodation to which their child is entitled.  Friends seem to be a never-ending dilemma, and our kids can be painfully isolated or ostracized.  Churches refuse to get out of their comfort zone to learn to include kids like ours.  And even our extended family can be unkind with the way they treat our precious offspring.

What is a parent to do?  When you read this brief litany of injustices, it's easy to see why so many parents live their lives in a constant state of bitterness, anger and frustration.  It's an enormous piece of the stress we bear in our unique role.  But God intends good for our lives, not an endlessly resentful attitude. (see Jeremiah 29:11)  And by trusting in His Holy Spirit, resolution can come.

There are positive ways to push back against the inordinate amount of injustice our children face:
  • Don't do a thing apart from God.  As my friend, Pastor Joe Medina, phrased it, "The best respite you will ever receive is on your knees."  Go to your Abba Daddy when there is trouble.  He cares about your every concern.  And cling to the faithfulness of the promises He gives you in His word.  Trust the Lord to lead you through any challenges your child faces in any matter.  He will lead you and give you wise discernment.
  • Become a calm, informed advocate.  Know what your rights are in the school system, medical system, insurance system, and other areas of basic living.  I frequently refer people to the Wright's Law website, which gives terrific resources and information to parents, especially concerning their child's educational rights.  Once you know what you and your child are legally entitled to, calmly face the situation at hand, even bringing another person with you if needed.  When your emotions are running high, I often find it helpful to start the conversation with the statement, "I want to apologize right now because I'm really upset, and I'm probably going to lose my cool."  While that may sound crazy, I have found it to instantly diffuse the situation for all involved, and sometimes even evoke ice-breaking laughter.
  • Educate others around you.  Mistreatment is often born of ignorance.  When you teach others what the different part of your life looks like, they gain understanding and often, compassion.  What they may originally see as bad behavior, they can now see as a symptom of a specific diagnosis.  What they once viewed as "babying," they can now see as an accommodation that is a matter of life-or-death for your child.  While we are not always up to the task, when we are strong, we must find the fortitude to share how we adapt our lives and then show them that a full, happy life is possible with those adaptations.  This is how we break down barriers.
  • Establish emotional boundaries.  If you are a regular reader of this devotional, you know that I am a huge fan of the Boundaries series by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.   This may mean that you learn a new method of behavior that protects your family from the bad while you are also building up the good.  Asserting yourself with unkind relatives or friends, walking away from the mistreatment of others, discerning what is acceptable or unacceptable, or even asking for help are all skills that involve boundaries.  As the guardian of your child, a parent must learn these important methods of managing interactions with others.
In the final analysis, dealing with injustice is a life-long learning process.  Like a muscle, your coping skills improve with every workout.  Accepting that this is just a regular part of your life will help quell the anxiety you feel rise up in situations where you or your child is wronged.  And helping another parent with that piece of their lives, in turn, will help redeem the frustrating angst you may experience.

PRAY:  Jesus, you know what it is to suffer tremendous injustice.  You suffered just like me in every way, but were without sin.  Guide me as I learn to deal with the many trials that come up against my precious family.  I put my trust in You and the promises You give to comfort me.

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